WATERTOWN, South Dakota (CNN) – Long bus rides along rolling fields, small town stops, intimate crowds and diner pie typically symbolize the run up to the Iowa caucuses and the start of the presidential nominating season. But Hillary Clinton's two-day swing through South Dakota, a state that ends the primary process Tuesday, had all those trappings and neither the candidate nor her supporters were acting as though this race was nearing an end.
"A lot of people didn't want this campaign to keep going. They've been trying to tell me to stop running since January - and every time they say it, people rebuke it and keep voting for me. That's what I hope will happen here in South Dakota," she told a cheering crowd of several hundred in Huron.
As she stood in front of an enormous American flag, Clinton wound through her stump speech promising fiscal responsibility, universal health care, better and more jobs, ending the war in Iraq - all the issues candidates touch as they claw for every vote. She promised that between now and Tuesday there would not be a day without a Clinton in some corner of this state. As voters left they were given small Xeroxed fliers advertising a Bill Clinton event Friday in Mitchell.
Earlier Thursday die-hard Clinton supporters and some undecided Democrats waited patiently inside the smallish Second Street Diner in Madison hoping for a glimpse of and a picture with the presidential candidate. Upon arrival Clinton gripped and grinned with the all white, mostly middle-aged female crowd stopping at each booth and table to chat about issues or her Wednesday trip to Mt. Rushmore – "it's an honor, Madame President!" one woman shrieked as Clinton bounced through the door.
Clinton sat with a group of all female campaign volunteers sipped her tea and nibbled her pie before she took the microphone for a semi-impromptu speech and question and answer session with the diner crowd.
Jolene Johnson, a Madison resident and undecided voter, said Clinton's situation did not look "favorable" but said the "tenacity of staying in is typical of a woman ... she is not a quitter." She came to the diner to hear Clinton's pitch, and brought her granddaughter along to show her that a woman could run for president.
"I'd like to see her win," said retiree Wayne Grad. "Obama is a good candidate, but he lacks the experience. He's too much of a rock star." Grad said he thought calls for Clinton to exit the race were premature. When asked whether he thought Clinton would be his party's nominee he said, "I'd like to believe she is."
Clinton logged hours on the road to touch South Dakota's urban and rural communities from Rapid City in the west to Watertown in the east. She heads to Puerto Rico Friday for a three-day swing and a presumed victory in the island's Sunday primary, further adding to her popular vote total and her argument that she still has a chance at the nomination.
The campaign is mum about where she heads after Sunday and what her schedule holds for next week. The mid-size traveling press corps received an email to sign up for future travel, prompting questions about where the bus was headed next? A campaign spokesman replied "there are a lot of places to go to between June 3 and November."